Idaho Power seeks Idaho regulatory acceptance of 2017 IRP

IDACORP’s (NYSE:IDA) Idaho Power on June 30 filed with the Idaho Public Utilities Commission (IPUC) an application requesting that the commission accept for filing the company’s 2017 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP).

The company noted that it is required to prepare and file a biennial IRP with both the IPUC and the Oregon Public Utility Commission, setting forth how the company intends to serve the electric requirements of its customers.

The 2017 IRP assumes that during the 20-year planning period, Idaho Power will continue to be responsible for acquiring resources sufficient to serve its retail customers in its Idaho and Oregon service areas, and that it will continue to operate as a vertically integrated electric utility. During that period, the company added, average system load is forecast to grow by 0.9% per year and 1.4% per year for peak-hour demand. The total number of customers is expected to increase from 534,000 in 2016, to 756,000 by 2036, the company noted.

Preparation of the company’s 2017 IRP began with the forecast of future customer demand, Idaho Power said, adding that existing generation resources, demand-side resources, and transmission import capacity were combined with forecast customer demand to create a load and resource balance for energy and capacity over the 20-year planning period. Idaho Power said that it then evaluated new energy efficiency programs and the expansion of existing demand-side management (DSM) programs to revise energy and capacity deficits. A baseline assumption for the 2017 IRP was Idaho Power’s exit from coal-fired operations of North Valmy Unit 1 and Unit 2 at the end of 2019 and 2025, respectively, the company said.

Idaho Power noted that it designed the portfolio analysis for the 2017 IRP to inform the IRP’s action plan with respect to two key resource actions: selective catalytic reduction (SCR) investments required for Jim Bridger Units 1 and 2 by 2022 and 2021, respectively; and the Boardman to Hemingway Transmission Line Project (B2H).

The company said that a fundamental goal of the IRP process is to identify a selected, or preferred, resource portfolio, which identifies resource options and timing to allow Idaho Power to continue to reliably serve customer demand, balancing cost and risk over the 2017 to 2036 planning period. The company said that analysis for the 2017 IRP indicates favorable economics associated with two significant resource actions: the acquisition of the B2H transmission line and the early retirement of the Jim Bridger Plant-Unit 2 in 2028, and Unit 1 in 2032 – without the installation of SCRs.

Those two resource actions are central to portfolio 7 (P7), the 2017 IRP’s preferred resource portfolio, the company said, noting that P7 contains no other resource actions through the end of the 2020s, but adds 36 MW reciprocating engine resources in 2031 and 2032, a 300-MW combined-cycle combustion turbine in 2033, and 54 MW reciprocating engine resources in 2035 and 2036.

The company noted that the 2017 IRP includes an action plan with resource activities that the company plans to take in the next two to four years, including:

  • Idaho Power’s continued planning to enter the western Energy Imbalance Market (EIM) in April 2018
  • Planning and coordination with NV Energy – Idaho Power’s co-owner – for Idaho Power’s exit from coal-fired operations of North Valmy Unit 1 by year-end 2019, and Unit 2 by 2025, and the planning and negotiation with PacifiCorp – Idaho Power’s co-owner – and applicable environmental regulators to achieve early retirements of Jim Bridger Unit 2 by 2028, and Unit 1 by 2032
  • Ongoing permitting and construction of B2H from 2017 to 2026. The company has included a longer action plan “window” for B2H given the length of time required to permit and build the 300-mile, 500-kV transmission line
  • Continued permitting and planning associated with the Gateway West transmission line, which remains a beneficial future upgrade to Idaho Power and the region, as it is designed to create additional capacity and to promote continued grid reliability in a time of expanding variable energy resources
  • Continued monitoring and assessing of the impacts of the Clean Air Act (CAA) Section 111(d) on the preferred portfolio, due to ongoing litigation about the rule’s legality. CAA Section 111(d) could potentially have a pronounced impact on coal and natural gas-fired power plant operations on Idaho Power’s system and throughout the nation

The company also said that the IRP Action Plan also includes such items as investigation of solar photovoltaic (PV) contribution to peak and loss-of-load probability analysis; continued pursuit of cost-effective energy efficiency; and continued coordination with Portland General Electric to achieve cessation of coal-fired operations at the Boardman plant by year-end 2020.

Of the B2H project, Idaho Power noted in its IRP that it expects the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to issue a record of decision by this summer. For Oregon’s permitting process, Idaho Power submitted the preliminary application for site certificate (pASC) to the Oregon Department of Energy (ODOE) in February 2013, and the company plans to submit an amended pASC this summer.

“Given the ongoing permitting requirements, Idaho Power is unable to accurately determine an approximate in-service date for the line but expects the in-service date would be in 2024 or beyond,” the company added.

Of the Gateway West project – which is a joint effort between Idaho Power and PacifiCorp to build and operate about 1,000 miles of new transmission lines from the planned Windstar substation near Glenrock, Wyo., to the Hemingway substation near Melba, Idaho – Idaho Power said that per legislation, the Interior Secretary must issue a right of way (ROW) for Idaho Power’s proposed routes for segments 8 and 9 of the project by early August. While the BLM issued a record of decision (ROD) for those segments in January, the BLM in March rescinded that ROD for further consideration, the company noted.

Phase 1 of the project is expected to provide up to 1,500 MW of additional transfer capacity between Midpoint – the Magic Valley area – and Hemingway – the Treasure Valley area, the company said, noting that the fully completed project would provide 3,000 MW total of additional transfer capacity.

About Corina Rivera-Linares 3286 Articles
Corina Rivera-Linares was TransmissionHub’s chief editor until August 2021, as well as part of the team that established TransmissionHub in 2011. Before joining TransmissionHub, Corina covered renewable energy and environmental issues, as well as transmission, generation, regulation, legislation and ISO/RTO matters at SNL Financial from 2005 to 2011. She has also covered such topics as health, politics, and education for weekly newspapers and national magazines.